Sunday, November 23, 2008
Well I get to use this blog for what I intend to it…to complain, protest, criticize, grumble, whine, carp, nitpick, object, accuse, ascribe, attack, beef, bellyache, bemoan, bewail, bitch, carp, cavil, charge, contravene, defy, demur, denounce, deplore, deprecate, differ, disagree, disapprove, dissent, expostulate, find fault, fret, fuss, gainsay, grieve, gripe, groan, grouse, growl, grumble, impute, indict, kick up a fuss, lament, lay, look askance, make a fuss, moan, nag, object, oppose, protest, refute, remonstrate, repine, reproach, snivel, sound off, take exception to, wail, whimper, whine, yammer about some situation in my life that I perceive as unacceptable, intolerable, improper, deplorable, offensive, undesirable, objectionable or just plain bullshit!
For the first time since I ventured into the cyber-cosmos with my vain and ofttimes brilliant prose (if you agree then send help me find a for-pay publisher) I feel in need of offering an apology to my faithful readership. The first paragraph was, indeed, an extended and preposterous use of both the thesaurus that comes with my word processing software, and the best to be found on the World Wide Web. Hiding behind the pretense of a being a wise scribe, I am quite literally lurking about wishing I could display my indigenous personality instead of perpetrating the façade which is before you. I want to curse, and curse LOUDLY!!!!
I came upon a situation at work, you know, the first job that I have ever truly loved, that has caused me to be reassigned to another campus. Much of this is not for general publication except the fact that I have been blind-sided by the news that I am not, contrary to what I have been told many times, been fulfilling my duties as an English teacher. Since the first of the school year I have been enrolled in a teacher certification program which is designed to improve my skills as a teacher, and aid the school by adding another “Highly Qualified Teacher” to its roles. I’ve already detailed my ventures back into the task of becoming, once more, a student.
I have learned many things over the last six months, and have indeed been certified as a “Highly Qualified Teacher”. This is a designation required of school to provide under the federal “No Child Left Behind” legislation. Politically this is a quagmire for schools to comply with. The law itself is a great idea, but the implementation has caused my small charter school some difficulty. We have many great teachers who are, in fact, hugely qualified and we will be all right once the convoluted language of the law is deciphered.
My own dilemma is that I have been suborned by someone who has previously sung my praises. I understand this happening as it has happened to me before. I face a number of difficulties in my life which have contributed to a long journey in seek of enlightenment, employment, and what some would call respectability. I am fat. I am a recovering drug addict. I am better educated than roughly 97% of the rest of the country (US Census).
Being fat has always been a fact in my life. It has caused me much difficulty in seeking employment to the point that, at times, I have had to rely on public assistance to maintain a lifestyle. I have been thought of as inferior by the news media, employers, colleagues, doctors, some potential romantic involvements, and society in general. Many times I have had to submit to people attempting to educate me on subjects that I have expert knowledge of. I had an experience (more then once) of sitting in a business meeting while someone explained to me a particular procedure or practice that I developed and implemented with success. I am constantly being patronized and condescended to. My favorite is (and this has happened hundreds of times) when someone speaks a little slower and a little louder to ensure that the poor fat guy will understand. I have spoke of this before so I will no longer belabor the issue.
I was ten years old when I made to first conscious decision to use a mind altering, mood changing substance. This was a result of being told by my father that I could not go and live with him…that he did not want me. What occurred over the next thirty two years of active addiction is a tale for another place. I will say that I have learned, which I could not know at ten years old, that I had the disease of addiction. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all define it as a disease. A disease, not a moral dilemma. I found recovery and discovered that it is definitely a chronic, progressive and fatal disease for which there is treatment. I have found that treatment, the result of which is that I am clean for 13 years. Best statistics reveal that 95% of people who get clean the way I did relapse. I have not.
In the summer of 1987, as a result of this disease, I found myself homeless. Direct responsibility for this situation falls entirely on me. Yes I have a disease, but the disease did not cause my landlord to evict me. I took up residence underneath a bridge near a creek with a fishing pole, and a beat up used car to live in. Coming late to the ideal that if you give a man a fishing pole he will never be hungry, I did not fare well. I sat by that creek and realized that there had to be something better out there. The result of these ruminations gave me the will to pursue an education. The process took a bit of time. I had to admit I needed help, much the same method for finding recovery, I went to My Dear Sainted Mother and, as always, she took in her worthless hobo of a son. We struggled for a while until she and I found a way for me to go back to school. It appears that we live in a country where a person can advance themselves on effort, determination and hard work. God Bless America.
I went to a technical school where the admission counselor looked at my test score and shook his head. It’s a shame that I had little chance because I was functionally illiterate. Yes, I could read and scored well on the entrance exam, but I could not write cursive and that would cause me to fail. I was admitted anyway and I discovered a computer in the library. I have never looked back. Several college degrees later I sit at this keyboard exercising my skill at the keyboard…a published writer. That counselor got to see me march into his office and display those degrees. It became a ritual for me, and it made him glad he had used an extreme method to bring out the best in me. The last time we met before his retirement, he hugged me and told me he was proud of me. My Dear Sainted Mother got to see her worthless hobo of a son graduate with honors…several times.
I am uncomfortable writing this page. I do not generally seek recognition for my successes. There was a time when I believed my education made me who I am, and I would sing loudly how smart I was, but the miracle of recovery has taught me that humility is a much healthier character trait. What I have done with this education is work at some kind of job where I could help people like me find a way to succeed. “Pulling myself up by my bootstraps” would certainty describe what I have done, but it is not as important as what I am doing today.
So what about the reassignment? I guess it just turns out to be a case of workplace politics. The offender in this case is me. I am always the offender simply because I am involved in all that is good, and all that is bad in my life. The perpetrator, however, in this instance is someone of power in my world. One who does not possess a degree, yet apparently possesses the ability to play politics better then I do. I really don’t wish to play politics. I am hurt, and instead of lashing out I am doing what I am taught in recovery. Sharing my feelings.
I find comfort in the face of malice. My superintendent looked me in the eye and told me he had faith in me, enough faith to send me to a campus where the kids might be somewhat more of a challenge, and, where I can possibly be of more help. I think of my kids now. They tell me they love me. They surround me when we go out in public to games and field trips. They tell me of their triumphs and frustrations, they let me hug them when they cry, and sometimes, they hug me when I cry. Peace.